Okay, I'm sitting here still somewhat stunned by the way this episode ended. I thought it was a good end to the arc and not what I was expecting at all. I'd said that I hoped Michelle hadn't done it for her daughter, I hoped they didn't go for the cop out, well . . . But some twist.
Some good moments, some very good moments, some fun interaction between various members of the team and we do indeed know where Team Gibbs loyalty lies, just what they'll do if told/asked to do it by Gibbs. I didn't want to slap anyone this week *g* I thought all the kids were very much of the 'old style' behaviour and banter and exchanges.
We only had one Ducky scene, but it was a good scene and an intense one. And he's still somewhat pissed with Gibbs, which was actually quite good to see, because given just how pissed he was last week, I doubt (as for this I think we were a mere day or two after the end of Cloak) he'd be quite over what Gibbs did yet.
Obviously we began with 'previously on NCIS' with a few flashbacks to remind us of what happened last week. And then we go straight into the episode and see water and someone running and another someone calling out and eventually catching the person running - who appears to be Amanda and a shoe falls off.
Then we move to a coffee shop where McGee and DiNozzo are sitting. DiNozzo is badly in need of a loo and McGee seems seems surprised that DiNozzo is actually drinking the coffee, not just simulating drinking. He demonstrates how to do that thing reminding DiNozzo that is 'Probie 101' and he also says that DiNozzo should watch Gibbs, DiNozzo decides that faking drinking indeed must be what Gibbs does as he appears to drink lots of coffee but never needs to pee. DiNozzo seems genuine surprised by this as if it has never come up before. [Okay, it was a fun little scene, but please - not exactly believable, not given how many years DiNozzo was a cop and then an NCIS agent. Once again it's with the 'dim DiNozzo', so full marks for a bit of banter, but zero marks for believability.] Gibbs is outside in the car and listening in on the conversation and in the end tells DiNozzo to change the subject. DiNozzo and McGee are also talking about whether Michelle is telling the truth; DiNozzo doesn't believe her at all, McGee seems more 'fence sitting' and points out that if the pick-up shows, Michelle is not lying.
Michelle comes in and gets a coffee and a paper and folds it in a certain way, basically leaving a message for someone; she also looks at DiNozzo and shakes her head. Then a guy in sunglasses, a hat, a scarf and an overcoat arrives and picks up the paper. Gibbs orders DiNozzo after man but when DiNozzo gets outside, Michelle deliberately runs into him, spilling coffee all over him and in effect letting the man get away, Gibbs does send McGee after him, but he has indeed got away. She claims DiNozzo was too close and the man could have realised. A not-exactly-happy Gibbs appears, takes her arm and says: "My show. My call. My car."
At HQ Ziva says that she head DiNozzo had had an accident. A not happy DiNozzo points out it wasn't an accident. Michelle wants to know if they have found anything and is told NSA got a hit; Gibbs turns up at that point. DiNozzo is still angry but Michelle argues that the man knew her routine and it was not safe. McGee calls from MTAC to say he has the feed and whereas DiNozzo tries to belittle Michelle a little by telling her she can't go, Gibbs says she has to: for confirmation.
Vance is also in MTAC and he is not a happy bunny either about the man getting away. NSA have picked up a thermal image and whilst they can't see the man, they do identify Amanda and they identify where the image was taken. DiNozzo and Ziva, still bickering about whether Michelle is telling the truth or not (DiNozzo still thinks not, Ziva is focussed on the fact a child is involved) get sent to go and check the area. In turn Gibbs orders McGee to take Michelle to the conference room and watch her. He won't even let McGee take a laptop to try to trace the man; Abby can do that.
Vance and Gibbs are talking again and Vance is wondering if in fact three people are involved. Someone has taken the bait about Domino and they will want proof that it actually works and delivers the information. Gibbs wants to give them a real show, Vance says the SecNav won't buy that. In fact the SecNav wants the man picked up the next time he appears - Gibbs does not approve of that.
In the conference room Michelle is talking to McGee and asking if he has managed to trace any of the text messages. After a short pause McGee says no, because they were routed through so many servers and countries - ditto Michelle's messages to the kidnapper. Then Michelle plays on McGee's sympathies reminding him that when Sarah was thought to be guilty of murder (Twisted Sister) McGee lied and did what he could to try to prove Sarah innocent and she asks him not to judge her without remembering for whom she was scared. [At this point I really was thinking that Michelle was an out and out baddie, just doing it all because she wanted to and fishing for information. She played the part very well indeed - she misled me on that point.]
Out in the field DiNozzo and Ziva are talking, DiNozzo can't believe that people could work with Michelle for three years and not know she had a daughter. Ziva tells him that most people keep their personal and professional lives separate and reminds him that when he didn't do that and he fell in love with Jeanne it didn't end well. [Ouch, Ziva, that was a bit below the belt]. DiNozzo 'thanks' her for the memory. Ziva then finds the trail, DiNozzo makes one of his film references and they head off after the trail - DiNozzo wanting to take the car, but Ziva sets off on foot.
Back at HQ Abby has had to escort Michelle to the loo and hasn't said a word to her the entire time she was in there. She and McGee then go to her lab and tell Michelle to stand in the door [I was 'no' she'll run]. Abby hasn't got as far as she could because she hasn't had any help and she thinks McGee should be helping her not babysitting Michelle. She is very anti-Michelle and spells out 'prisoner' and Michelle points out she can spell and then she thanks Abby as she knows she helped trace the NSA feed and she asks how - and after looks being exchanged between Abby and McGee, Abby tells her! [I was again with the huh? Come on, guys, don't trust her]. Abby explains that hair is like a time machine when it comes to food and drink and they know that after Amanda was kidnapped her drinking changed and that they have an idea where Amanda was based on the type of water.
Gibbs duly appears and reminds Abby that was yesterday's news. Abby asks if she can have McGee back, but at that moment McGee's phone rings. It's DiNozzo whom McGee thinks is probably lost - Gibbs seems to agree as he dismisses McGee off to his computer. Meanwhile he sends Michelle ahead of him and Abby tells him something she didn't tell Michelle: that until DNA comes in they don't know the hair sample is from Amanda.
Up in the squad room McGee is at his computer and Michelle is sitting watching him. We hear DiNozzo say: "Define lost, McGee." And he points out he knows exactly where they are: between a bush and a tree *g* McGee can't find them on his map, but he recalibrates and we learn they are six miles from where they started. And nearby is a structure about 200 yards away.
Ziva and DiNozzo go to the structure and there are a lot of tire tracks. They go in, but the place is empty. DiNozzo is about to leave but Ziva says the room is smaller than it should be and asks if DiNozzo thought it looked larger on the outside - DiNozzo agrees it did. And they find another room, 'hidden'. Inside is evidence that a child, a girl, has been there, but she has been moved.
They are looking around and about to go when DiNozzo says: "Oh, look the help's been fired." And there on the floor by the bed is a dead man - the one who'd grabbed Amanda after she'd run away. He's been shot execution style. DiNozzo calls Gibbs and tells him, and from rigour it appears the man was killed just after the NSA thing was shot. DiNozzo adds that it will keep Ducky busy, but Gibbs says no it won't. They are not going there; DiNozzo and Ziva are to take photos and collect basic evidence and then get out and leave the place as it was. As they're doing this Ziva notes there is no fridge thus it appears supplies were brought it; the girl noticed the routine and took her chance and ran and the boss then shot the man. She gives DiNozzo a hairbrush and then she finds on the bed, under the blanket, the days marked off in tomato sauce. She calls Amanda 'a brave little girl'.
We then have our one and only Ducky scene. Gibbs and he are alone in Autopsy and Ducky is looking at the photograph of the dead man.
Ducky: "Forensic evidence requires some evidence'. Oh, he is still indeed pissed with Gibbs. He says that lately he's had too many bodies or not enough.
Gibbs tells him he isn't there because of a dead body.
Ducky: "Well I hope you're not here to ask for more patience. I am not a patient man. Which leads me to believe our blackmailer is. Patient."
Gibbs: "He's had the girl for eight months."
Ducky then does 'his thing' and talks about how the man is methodical, calculating and confident in his abilities to plan and execute. He moves to the file of photographs of the room Amanda had been kept in and points out the different clothing for summer and winter. And he goes on to say his plan never changed, not even two months ago when Domino was compromised and Langer died, he didn't change his plans he merely extended his contingencies.
Gibbs suggests that he laid low for two months.
Ducky then goes on about the blackmailer works slowly, deliberately and yet when the girl escaped he instantly shot the man meant to be guarding her. Fast and slow; the man is a contradiction. He appears to be compassionate when he wants to be and cruel when he needs to be. And he makes a reference to poker - he believes the term is 'grinder'.
Gibbs: "Yeah, okay. Go on."
And Ducky does. He tells Gibbs the only way they'll get him is to make him believe he has the winning hand. He needs to feel safe so that he'll show all of his cards. Otherwise -
Gibbs: "He folds."
Ducky: "Goes back to waiting."
Gibbs: "What about the girl?"
Ducky tells him that unfortunately he'll not longer see her as the victim; he now sees her as a witness to be disposed of.
A nice scene; yes, Ducky was still somewhat annoyed with Gibbs, but they did then slip into their seamless routine of knowing what the other is thinking/means and finishing one another's sentences. And Ducky, once he'd registered his 'I still haven't quite forgiven you, Jethro', was more his old self. Some nice looks between them. A good scene.
Back in the conference room, DiNozzo turns up to relieve McGee. Michelle tries to find out what he has found and DiNozzo tells her he has had enough of the lies and he also tells her they are picking up the man at the drop the next day. Michelle is concerned about that and says they should just follow him, but DiNozzo said the only following is him following her home - now!
The next day shows us Gibbs in the coffee shop and DiNozzo and McGee in the car watching and listening. McGee says he thinks he now has some insight into Michelle and DiNozzo pulls the binoculars from McGee eyes and rubs his hand over them. When McGee asks what he's doing he says removing the wool from his eyes and they squabble and slap one another a bit. McGee says he has an insight into Michelle; he doesn't necessarily trust her but he understands her a little. Meanwhile inside the shop Michelle is leaving a different signal; she's putting on lipstick and then deliberately turns around the coffee cup showing the mark.
Back in Abby's lab, Abby is talking to herself and Vance appears. Abby then goes off on one of her little tangents and goes into 'Abby-mode'. She asks if he's doing a Gibbs because Gibbs always appears and asks: 'what you got, Abbs?' Vance says he's doing a Vance and does indeed ask her what she has. She says it's not quite right and then again realises he really isn't trying to do a Gibbs. The test results on the dead man show zilch - his ID has been erased and then she gets another result: the hair is not Amanda's; it is, however, a woman. Vance definitely does not seem to like Abby, or to 'get' her - which I can understand; she is rather 'odd' at times. She calls him 'Leon' and then says that it's too soon to call him that; he agrees. And she gets another result - a bad result.
Vance calls Gibbs to tell him the DNA on the hair is not from Michelle's daughter. Ooops, she has been lying. Back in the coffee shop our guy comes in again and see the lipstick and knows something is wrong. However, Michelle has a gun under her newspaper and tries to point it at him. Gibbs intervenes and the man gets worried because if 'they' are watching, they'll know - and he tell them they have his wife!
In the interrogation room Michelle is waiting and DiNozzo watching and Gibbs comes in. He tells her they know she's lying and she admits that Amanda isn't her daughter, she is her adopted sister who she has basically raised from a tiny tot. She said that when her parents died she promised to look after Amanda and she wakes up every day hoping it'll all be over. Gibbs challenges her saying she knew a daughter would get to him more and then she taunts Gibbs about the lengths he'd go to for his daughter and says that it's time he told the truth. He is very angry and says she should have gone to him from the start before she murdered two men. He leaves.
Meanwhile in another interrogation room Vance is with the man from the coffee shop: Ted Bankston. He was a former NSA agent who was fired and accused of mishandling classified information. He admits he did do that, because his wife had been kidnapped and it was the only way to keep her alive. He hoped that when he was fired the demands would stop, but instead the bad guy found Michelle. Bankston has to deliver Domino or his wife will be killed - he says he knows she's alive as he gets sent hair samples. Basically the bad guy uses Bankston to pick up the stuff from Michelle and sends texts as to where to drop it off. Bankston has never seen the guy. He tells Vance that the bad guy calls himself 'Weather Man'. Vance says that Domino can predict US Military responses and wonders why the bad guy wants it. Bankston tells him for money. Basically once the US start moving troops the world market changes and the guy can buy and sell stocks and make a fortune. He wants Domino so that he knows what is going to happen tomorrow.
Meanwhile in Abby's lab she and McGee are there when Gibbs arrives and says: "What you got, Abbs." That makes her very happy. But then she isn't so happy because the hair on the hairbrush is missing a particular protein: a protein that is missing from the body once a person is dead. So the hair hasn't been proof of life, but proof of death. [Surely though if the hair had been cut off from the body and kept for a while, wouldn't the same protein be missing?]
Gibbs goes to see Vance again and wants the deal that the bad guy only gets Domino when they get the girl. Gibbs says they'll need the real Domino and hands him the paperwork to sign. Vance refuses and says Gibbs only has authorisation to use a decoy.
Down in the squad room, Bankston is worried because he hasn't been contacted. But then lo and behold a text message comes in asking if he has it. Gibbs makes DiNozzo text back and tells him he can have Domino when they have the girl and he talks about her having a gun to his head. DiNozzo texts everything Gibbs says, much to Gibbs's mild annoyance. The bad guy agrees to the deal and it's set to happen in an hour's time at Adam's Tavern.
In the evidence garage everyone is getting ready. Ziva is putting Michelle's earwig in and asks Michelle why she hasn't tried to plead her case to her. Michelle says she's tired of trying to make people listen and Ziva says she understands what Michelle has done. Michelle asks if she'd have done the same, but Ziva doesn't answer that. Instead she asks if the earwig is okay. And then Michelle says to Ziva that she won't see her daughter again, and Ziva says: "Probably not." Gibbs arrives and everyone leaves. Gibbs also gives Michelle Domino and she wonders how he got the real thing.
Up in MTAC Vance and McGee are looking at the monitor and Vance gets a call - he keeps trying to speak, but basically can't finish a sentence. When he hangs up we learn that it was SecNav to tell him that someone had hacked into the defence computers and downloaded Domino and it has been traced to McGee's computer. He says that Gibbs and McGee have just committed treason! [See Gibbs's team is loyal to him].
Back at the tavern Gibbs is playing pool and everyone (there are a lot of agents there) is watching the area. DiNozzo and Ziva aren't inside they are watching over the camera and DiNozzo tells Ziva that Gibbs isn't really drinking, she needs to watch his Adam's apple and learn. So DiNozzo is basically doing what he's done many times (which is consistent at least) and repeating something he's been told and passing it off as his own. Irksome and immature, but at least consistent and IC.
Vance calls Gibbs and tells him to shut it down [I don't think so] but then Bankston gets a call telling him to put Domino in the menu and Gibbs just hangs up on Vance. Someone picks the menu up. Then Abby calls Gibbs to tell him she's figured something out, she goes off an an Abby-ramble to begin with, about how she was glad NSA called her back because she didn't want then thinking NCIS were easy. He pulls her back on track and we learn the dead guy was actually Paul Winton who was a witness in a joint NSA/FBI investigation and he'd been put into the witness protection scheme. He has a new life with a safe house, four blocks from where they are and there is a massive amount of power being used. Gibbs sends Ziva and also DiNozzo out there.
In MTAC Vance tells McGee to call DiNozzo and Ziva as they can see they are moving - fast, McGee dials but they won't answer.
Then at the safe house DiNozzo and Ziva come across lots and lots of big, very big, make that very, very big computers. DiNozzo take a photo and sends it to McGee, but Vance takes the phone and it is him who calls DiNozzo back and when DiNozzo asks 'Probie' how he is, Vance says 'looking at a career in the fast food industry'. And then he tells DiNozzo that the computers look like sequentially linked network recs, in essence the man's own Internet hub so that he can cover all of his tracks and also there is an automatic response program when the bad guy 'talks' to Bankston.
Ziva calls DiNozzo who hangs up on Vance [Vance has had a lot of people hanging up on him tonight]. And in another room they find Amanda, still breathing, but clearly drugged. However, she is lying on some kind of pressure plate that seems to be rigged to the computers - if she moves everything will blow and she'll be killed. DiNozzo then makes a reference to Raiders Of The Lost Ark [a film I actually know] and tries to figure out how much the girl weights so he can replace her with equal weight. But before they can do that she starts to wake up and between them they grab her off the bed and wham everything does indeed blow up - but we assume the three of them are okay.
Meanwhile in the tavern an alarm goes off Gibbs orders all the exits to be covered basically locking the place down. He won't let Michelle leave and he is looking for Domino in the menus, but it's not there - he says it never was and he looks at Michelle. In turn she and then Gibbs looks at Bankston who grabs a gun and grabs Michelle and fires at Gibbs. He drags Michelle out with Gibbs following and still getting shot at.
Bankston then drags Michelle onto a bus, orders the driver to drive and Gibbs fires at one of the front tires, taking it out and forcing the bus to stop. On the bus Gibbs and Bankston exchange shots and Gibbs gets shot in the right hand and a bullet grazes his head making him slightly woozy [it was actually good to see the hero get hit]. McGee calls Gibbs to tell him DiNozzo has Amanda and then Michelle tries to take Bankston (who has now also shot an innocent passenger), elbowing him and grabbing his arm, but it's clear she isn't strong enough. She locks gazes with Gibbs and in effect orders him 'to do it'. He hesitates, but she nods and finally he shoots directly at her; the bullets go through her into Bankston. Gibbs goes to Michelle, and she is alive for a fraction of a second and then she dies. He takes her badge. [If one rationalises this scene (which I normally do) the fact is Bankston had fired a lot of shots - I didn't count how many, but 'a lot' came to mind, so did it really have to end this way? Which makes how moved I was by it even more odd].
Back at HQ Gibbs, with hand and scalp duly stitched/bandaged, goes into Vance's office. We learn they have found Bankston's wife, dead. The hair was just an insurance policy in case he was caught. Bankston really thought he was going to walk out of the bar with Domino in his pocket; Vance says he thought of everything. Gibbs says: "Not everything." And Vance says that it was probably the best way for it to end. Treason and double murder; she was looking at a life sentence or even worse and she'd never see her sister again. He says SecNav wants Domino back and Gibbs points to the file he gave Vance: Domino never left the building, but he needed everyone, including Vance to think it had.
Vance: "So what are you going to tell her? Lee a hero or villain?"
Down in the squad room Amanda is with Ziva and she's drawing, DiNozzo comes in with breakfast and Ziva tells Amanda's her aunt is on the way. Gibbs appears.
Gibbs: "You are one brave little girl."
Amanda: "Where's Michee?"
Gibbs takes her hand and leads her away from the desk watched by DiNozzo and Ziva. Amanda asks about his hand. But he doesn't answer. Instead he gives her Michelle's badge: "Michee would want you to have that."
Well it certainly had me crying *wry grin* so it has to be said it really touched me. From the point of view of edge of seat stuff and fooling me, I was well and truly fooled. I did think Michelle was going to turn out to be the baddie just because she wanted to be. I was taken in by Bankston and I certainly was not expecting the ending we got. Hero indeed, yes a villain as well, you can't get over the fact that she killed two men, one being a colleague, but she did give her life in the end. It was her choice, not Gibbs - I'm not sure Gibbs would have made the call. And what about Gibbs? Okay, so yes, she was bad but he had to shoot her in what in effect was cold blood, just to stop Bankston. It was a really good shoot out - and certainly that was not any kind of cop-out at all. We had deaths, we had innocent deaths, and we had a hero and an injured Gibbs. It was an ending and a half.
A lovely Autopsy scene between Gibbs and Ducky.
Good team work over all.
Vance okay - again I don't like the man but I do like the dynamics he produces. I think he saw today just to what lengths Gibbs will go and also how far his team will go. If he thought he'd maybe 'lured' McGee onto his 'side' this showed him no way. McGee hacked for Gibbs.
Abby was . . . Abby. Cute scene with her and Vance. Just teetering on the edge of annoying, but not going over the edge. In fact very good.
I'm still a little meh about the whole 'wife been missing for a year and Amanda for eight months'. It seems a tad unrealistic, maybe, possibly. Wouldn't anyone else have known Mrs. Bankston was missing? But then Bankston was good, very good and he knew to what lengths Michelle would go to save her sister.
More Ducky would have been nice, but given the episode it wasn't a viable option. Ditto I can see why Jimmy wasn't in it.
What is odd is that given the number of 'flaws' (number of bullets fired by Bankston for one) and stuff in this that normally make me grit my teeth or think 'so trite', this episode really touched me. I've never been a huge Michelle fan - I hated the arc with her and Jimmy because I just didn't buy that at all that they'd have sex at work all the time, especially when they both had homes (but we do know why Jimmy couldn't go to her home). I took to her more before and after the affair. But the final bus scene (for it's 'WTF' moments) really did move me.
I think it's one of those eps where, for me, I can't rationalise why I liked it as I did, why I thought it was a good storyline, that alone is rare for me, I can normally do that. But not with this episode. Maybe I will radically change my view about after second viewing. But it's been some time since a scene (in spite of the flaws) touched me as much as the final bit on the bus did. Hmmmmm.
ETA 02: After watching this for a second time my view hasn't changed - at least not for the negative. If anything it got stronger. As far as the shoot-out went, watching it again, it was the only answer. Gibbs was clearly in sever pain from the fracture of his main shooting finger (so well done to see the bone protruding *shudder*) and the graze on his head. He was locked into position where he was standing, there was no way he could have taken Bankston on - even assuming he had counted the number of shots. He would have been one handed and with the pain he was it could only have ended one way - with both him and Michelle. dead.
And Lee's character, the way her story kept changing was part of what made the storyline so powerful. You really did think she was doing it for money or whatever, because of the questions she kept asking, the way she upset DiNozzo's coffee, etc. And actually with it turning out that not only was Amanda not her daughter, but also not even her biological sister made it more poignant. And strictly speaking given she'd brought her up since she was six months in all intents and purposes Amanda was Michelle's daughter.
So I stand by my rating and thoughts. And J loved it too! :-)